NEW DELHI: The Kashmiri Pandits were in the forefront for years for abrogation of Article 370 granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir, but they want an immediate restoration of statehood and a special status to it.

    “Never before has a state been downgraded as a Union Territory. This is not done in a democracy. One can’t have a military solution to a political situation and can’t go to war with their own people,” says Delhi-based Kashmiri Pandit leader Satish Mahaldar heading the organisation called The Restoration, Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrant Kashmiri Pandits.

    He says it is not that J&K was the only state with special status. Other 10 states enjoying the special category status are Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. He wants a wide range of prohibitions available in these states be also extended to J&K immediately.

    Mahaldar has given his wish list of seven actions to be followed after conferring J&K with the special category, topping them with the demand to grant special status to the Kashmiri Pandits since they are a cultural and religious minority within the state as it is the responsibility of the government to protect ancient culture and a particular race.

    He regrets that instead of putting J&K on a faster growth paradigm, since last one year no industrial policy has been formulated, nor initiatives taken to accelerate the growth. On the contrary in January 14, the LG Secretariat issued orders to close down five existing PSUs, thus putting a brake on the growth engine of the state and rendering thousands jobless, the Pandit leader added.

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